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Hagerty Employee

Our tame fighter pilot has Top Gun: Maverick in his sights

Caveat 1: Nothing that happened in the movie was actually surprising, so, depending on your definition of spoiler, there may or may not be spoilers below. Caveat B: Per my agreement with the military lawyers in obtaining permission to write for Hagerty, I can't divulge what branch of the service I'm in.
Advanced Driver

I was 6 years old and my family drove from the Bay Area to Reno to watch the air races. I only have a memory of one thing from that trip, and it still shines clear as a bell it was Bob Hoover flying a stunt plane straight up, then shutting down the engine and falling backwards, only to recover in reverse start up and land perfectly.
Forget Evel Kneival, the Wallendas, and any other daredevil type, (as I have over 55 years) this was pure and simple perfect planning, and it remains etched indelibly in my head and is a memory as clear to me today as it was all those years ago!

My father took me to see Bob Hoover once. He had met Bob in Germany in the 50’s. 

There he took an F86 that had been damaged for a test flight and then put on an exhibition of flight that made the main line pilots jaws drop. 

if you have not read Bobs book you should. He had one hell of a life. I can only imagine him and Chuck Yeager and the adventures they had together. 

it even covers his escape from the Germans and making his way over the mountains in Spain only to go back and fly combat again. That is a true hero not some cocky a$$ 59 year old jet pilot

They used to dog fight over Ohio testing planes captured from the Germans near Dayton. Imagine seeing that in the Ohio country side. 

They were also flying German 626 jets in 1945 there. Imagine some farmer seeing a German Jet in Ohio back then? 

Now that is a movie I would pay to see. 

Advanced Driver

I 100% agree that Bob Hoover's book is an incredible read. I managed to get him to autograph my copy.


Ever read Viper Pilot by Dan Hampton? That was a great book I really enjoyed.

Advanced Driver

I'm jealous you got to see Hoover fly!

Alright I have to say it. I served in the US Navy as a Submariner, I went in well after Top Gun was in theaters and I this past May I would have been in for 30 years if I hadn't been asked to retire some time ago. A guy I went to boot camp with who went from E-1 to O-5 (one rank below Maverick at the start of the movie) had to retire last year because the Navy said that even at that rank 30 years was enough. Another friend of mine who did the E-1 to O-6 trip will be getting out soon if he doesn't make O-7 because with 30+ years in the Navy if you aren't a Master Chief or an Admiral you have hit "High Year Tenure" and it is time to move on from the military. For someone, even someone that is in elite athlete condition when they join the military, to last over 40 years in a combat roll is unheard of. Even the most no load Movies Mattress and Meals Master Chiefs on my boat were broken men by the time they hit 30 years, these were guys that were in fairly elite units in Vietnam who wore some impressive hardware beyond the dolphins on their chests. They were not loose cannons, they did not talk back, even though they more than earned that right. My point is this, Maverick would have put out to pasture back around the turn of the century if he even made it that long, guys like that either get asked to leave or find out there is always someone better out there. They have to live with knowing they aren't the best for the rest of their lives, all 5 to 8 seconds of it. For me this rates right up there with JAG not reviewing rental and divorce agreements, and NCIS not using nonexistent evidence to charge people with drug use. But sure, you go on and believe that someone can do a job that stressful and physically demanding for almost 40 years.

Outstanding movie, better even than the original. It is one of the few things that actually live up to the hype surrounding it.
Pit Crew

It is a movie. It is make believe. It is not presented to be real. What irks me are the movies that falsely present, but grossly distort and fictionalize, an actual real event or person. This misleading rewriting of history is usually done to make reality more "entertaining," or politically correct, or to underscore some ideological or social point of view. Maybe the film should have been named "Once Upon a Time in Top Gun: Maverick" so that no one misunderstands it.

It's a truism that the more you know about a profession or situation or event, the less you'll like its movie treatment. Sometimes a lot of disbelief must be suspended in order to be entertained. Top Gun was never more than an extended commercial for the U.S. Navy, with some elements of homoeroticism thrown in. ...Maverick merely continues the distressing modern movie-making phenomenon of mining nostalgia, yet another unimaginitive remake. Which is why I'm so grateful for your typically understated opinion on this and other topics. Every word you write is carefully chosen and on-target. I'll bet you don't waste ammunition either.
Intermediate Driver

Well, I did grow up around a WWII fighter pilot; my Dad. 89 missions in the P-47 in N. Africa and then, from Corsica; 1943-44.. Actually, I suspect he would have declined to see TGMaverick. Hit by ground fire from German 88's twice, he made it back from all his missions with the same airplane he took off in, and uninjured, at least physically. Hats off to you, sir.
Intermediate Driver

Josh, thank you for another great piece!

It is wonderful to hear from someone that has (more than likely) felt that which the director and actors are trying to portray for us mere mortals. Obviously, said director, actors, producers, financiers, etc., realize embellishment is necessary to make a movie meant to entertain.

It was interesting to read the production had a Navy representative on-set daily - and he revealed he signed up after the first Top Gun, along with many others that drove a 500% increase in military applications. Suffice to say the Navy is involved to market themselves with some free advertising - this Navy rep also divulged the cost of jet fuel was paid by the production, as to not take from the American taxpayer.

Ultimately, realism is a form of art, reality is what you do every day, as my uncle did flying CF-104s along with his best friend who later commanded the largest squadron of CF-18's in the CAF. Their stories are fun to hear, mostly because they never flew in anger towards an enemy and can talk about the fun times flying at or above Mach speeds.

Back to the movie - my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the production, clear on the concept of moviemaking, not reality.

I thank my military family for their service of keeping us safe back in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's, oftentimes working alongside like-minded fighter pilots on U.S. and European soil, and echo that thanks to you and your colleagues.

Looking forward to your next literary dispatch!
Intermediate Driver

Though I did my military service in the Cub Scouts...As a pilot with a few thousand hours, and about a decade owning a contemporary military trainer, doing daily aerobatics and the odd dogfight with friends, I can fully appreciate your excellent article.
However, as a graduate of a famous art school, with a minor in English and Film.... I recall the words scrawled in graffiti on the Sub Level walls of the school, where frustrated film school students were trying to edit their work in the labyrinth of the edit bays... "Keep telling yourself... It's only a movie, It's only a movie... It's only a movie..."

I challenge anyone to read the book A Higher Call and see an actual story of real pilots, crews and air craft and you will find it is a much better story than this movie. 

The shame of it is there are many real stories out there that could be told that need no embellishments or unreal flying and behavior. 

I am not a Vet but I have sat and heard WWI, WWII, Korean and Nam Vets tell their stories and it makes me sad we make up stuff when the true stories should be told. 

I promise you A Higher Call or even the Bob Hoover Biography are amazing. 

Better yet take the Biography of Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a mechanic, Indy Racer, WWI ace, Indy Speedway owner, help found Eastern Airlines, was a spy for America in Germany and the Soviet Union as well China and Japan. 
He survived the crash of an airliner and a B17 crash at sea and survived in a raft for 21 days before being found. Along the way he was an adviser to presidents and GM then started his own car company went into major debt yet paid his way out with out going bankrupt. 

Too often Hollywood takes the easy way out. Make stuff up, blow it up and bluff their way through. 

I know some things have to be altered a bit but leave the Science fiction to Marvel. 

Pit Crew

Articles such as these irritate me given they're out of context from the objective. I've been an Air Force pilot for 19 years and the original Top Gun was a main player in my joining the military and promoting a fascination with aviation. Am I in any way saying the movies are accurate, that they're not cheesy? Of course not. Nothing you said about the tactical inaccuracies is disagreeable. I'd make the argument that realistic and accurate mission planning, exercises, and tape debriefs are utterly boring as hell-I can't comprehend who would pay to watch anything resembling realistic military aviation. We saw all of the same authors get somehow personally offended at the first movie and here we go again. News flash, the purpose of this movie is entertainment! I've seen it twice now....from a career Air Force pilot, it was F-ing awesome both times.
Intermediate Driver

A few years after "Top Gun" was released I attended Pan Am's interview process. I was in a group numbering about 30 people and most were instructors pilots from Miramar. Many had flown in the production and their comments were priceless. The fondest memories they shared involved flying with the "star." "Today's target" was the conscientious effort to make the actor as air-sick as possible. The winner and size of the purse involved were never mentioned but the money was sizable and everyone had agreed that the severity inflicted had in fact caused a one day delay in shooting because someone was DNIF the entire next day. Not one of the Naval aviators would admit to having seen "Top Gun." Audiences care nothing for writing, acting, et. al, but glitz and toothy hunks attract mob-like crowds. "The Battle of Britain" had far more accurate flying and it also had a plot! Save your time, save your money.